Sangam Vihar & Devli is one of the largest resettlement colonies in terms of population in Delhi. The inhabitants are migrant workers and landless labourers from various North Indian states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Part of Madhya Pradesh. The whole settlement is divided into twelve blocks (A-L), and each of the blocks has an average population of 20,000 people. Majority of the population belongs to Hindu or Muslim and there are minority groups of Christians and Sikhs. The buildings are clustered in steady lines. Each building would have more than two stories and three to four families live in one building. Only a few people own land and live in their own houses. All others are on rent.
The families that stay in one building have more than one thing in common: they may be doing the same job, may be from the same village, etc. these buildings are mostly unauthorized and unsafe constructions. Safety and hygiene or privacy is least taken care of. Electricity and water connections are not legalized. Most of the men do daily wage works or other low-profile work in the factories, or in the construction sites. There are a few working as rickshaw pullers and rag pickers or kabadies.
Still a few run petty shops of various things. Women mostly work as domestic workers or as road side vendors. People who migrate from agrarian communities have the sets of skills that are useful only in the farm related sector. They are under-educated if not illiterate and this hinders them from getting a decently paid job. In their fight to make the two ends meet, they are willing to take up any job and the cycle of poverty culture continues as their children also are pushed into work than education.
There is no public transport even if 90% of the inhabitants have to move out of the colony for their daily work. Rickety out dated auto-rickshaws ply in between the Badarpur - Mehrauli road carrying 6-10 people in them. The construction of the roads is of poor quality that there is always dust in the atmosphere as soon as a vehicle passes by. Drainage system in the area is of poor quality and a short spell of rain would drench the entire area with water that carries all kinds of pollutions- including the sewage waste. The solid waste management practices of the people are causing accumulation of more garbage and often the drainages get blocked with the thrown away plastics, etc.
There are no government hospitals or dispensaries functioning in the area and the people have to travel nearly three kilometres to avail these facilities. There are high rates of occurrence of diseases like TB, typhoid, viral-hepatitis, polio, gastro-enteritis, conjunctivitis, scabies, measles, jaundice, etc. Many of these diseases are related to occupation and life style. There is periodic breaking of epidemics in the area. The health camps organized in the slums are the only occasions for the people to avail the services of qualified practitioners in case of any diseases. Even in those cases only the basic generic medicines are made available.
Educational facilities are insufficient. There are a number unauthorized schools run by people from outside the colony. They present themselves as English Medium School, Convent School, etc and charge very high fee. Education thus becomes expensive. The number of school drop outs is about 30%. Girls are not sent out of the colony for education or college or even work in most cases. There is one Primary school and one high school run by the MCD for the whole area and these schools have deplorable infrastructure and the teachers there are not even turning up regularly.
It was a challenge for Chetanalaya to build rapport with these under privileged community. Over the years, the organization has not only gained the confidence of the people but act as a major proponent of people’s cause for progress and development. Chetanalaya is involved in a series of activities from non-formal education to skill training to micro finance to senior citizens’ welfare in Devli/Sangam Vihar.